A Course for Safe Boating
Accident Prevention and Rescue
You may need to turn onto your stomach and swim hard to an eddy or the
shore to avoid upcoming rapids, or if help is not nearby.
Do not attempt to stand in swift water. If your foot gets wedged in the rocks,
the force of the water can push you over and hold you under.
You should avoid strainers if you can. If you are swept into a strainer, then
you should swim hard toward it and vigorously climb your way to the top as
you hit it.
If someone falls overboard, crew members will “point positive” toward a
The swimmer in the water should listen for instructions from the guide.
A paddle or oar can be extended to the person overboard if he or she
You must use a throw bag if the current is swift, or the victim is too far
away. To use a throw bag:
Clearly yell the person’s name to attract his or her attention.
Throw the bag so it hits the swimmer or lands slightly upstream.
The swimmer should grab the rope and bring it over his shoulder.
This keeps the person in swimmer’s position with his or her face out of
The swimmer should not grab the bag because the remaining rope will
continue to be pulled out and he will be carried farther downstream.
Rope should never be wrapped around an arm or wrist. This could cause
The rope thrower should be prepared for a jolt when the rope tightens.
Pull the swimmer toward shore or the boat.
When pulled back to the boat, you can lift the swimmer aboard by
grabbing the shoulder straps of his or her life jacket. Do not pull the
victim by his or her arm or wrist.
Paddlers should never put themselves in danger to rescue another.
Helping swimmers is the first priority. Saving equipment should wait until
after all swimmers have been helped.
Seek help from passing boaters if an accident happens. Most commercial rafts
have guides who know how to handle emergencies. On remote sections of a
river, stay on the riverbank. Chances are, help will come to you faster than
you can find it.
If you must leave an accident site to seek help, follow the riverbank to the
closest available help. Do not try to go overland unless you’re familiar with